I think I need to start eating dinner (and dessert) earlier in the evening. Sure, the mysterious collective “they” say it’s healthier to not eat large meals past the early evening hours. But my rationale has nothing to do with my waistline. If I follow through with eating earlier, the only reason I’ll be doing it is for the lighting.
You see, I am not a professional blogger, nor am I a professional photographer. It’s not like I have special lights for food photography, or even a particularly fancy camera. And when I’m feeling really lazy, or have a last moment realization that what I’m about to eat might be blog-worthy, I’ve been documenting it via camera phone.
The problem with this is that it means there are times that I hesitate to post recipes because I don’t have photographs that do them justice. And a lot of the time this happens because we’re eating dinner at 9pm and there’s no beautiful natural sunlight to cast a halo around the heavenly dessert I’m about to eat or to bring out an heirloom tomato’s brilliant colors that seem to disappear the second I turn a ceiling light on.
And what I end up with is a blurry photograph of a parfait topped with what look more like kalamata olives than fresh cherries. Even the coolest Instagram filter can only do so much.
So yeah… this isn’t the prettiest or most photogenic dessert. But it was really, really tasty. Especially considering how easy it is.
I’m a fan of cherries and almonds together, especially when they are joined with chocolate, as evidenced by the Chocolate, Cherry, & Almond Oatmeal Cookies I made last summer. But here’s a way to enjoy a similar combination without having to turn on the oven.
This is inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe for Sweet Ricotta with Chocolate which I made for a book club gathering last month. It was served with berries and cinnamon-sugar pita chips. And it only takes as much time as it takes to chop up some chocolate and stir the ingredients together. Great thing to throw together for a gathering- easy to make ahead, transport, and since you can serve it with fruit, it’s a good option if you have gluten-free friends.
But when I finally got around to making a belated Mother’s Day dinner the other night for my mom, I wanted to do something a little fancier. And thus, this ricotta parfait was born.
I’ve tried this once with frozen cherry and once with fresh, and I have to say, I liked the consistency of the frozen cherries better. But maybe if you halved fresh cherries and tossed them with just a little sugar to draw out some of the juices, that would work too.
In terms of portions/servings, this recipe definitely makes enough for two parfaits plus a healthy amount of leftover ricotta to be enjoyed on its own. But you could probably get 3 or 4 parfaits out of this if you wanted to.
Cherry, Chocolate, and Almond Ricotta Parfait
One 15-16 ounce container of part skim ricotta cheese
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract (or more, to taste)
1 to 1 1/2 ounce coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (I use two or three squares of a 4-ounce Ghirardelli bittersweet 60% cacao baking bar)
About 20 to 30 pitted cherries, fresh or frozen, defrosted (I think I had about 10-15 cherries per parfait)
Slivered almonds (I’d say I split about a 1/4 cup between two parfaits but this could be adjusted based on personal preference)
Drain the ricotta in a fine-mesh sieve for about 10-20 minutes, to let some of the liquid drain out. Transfer ricotta to a bowl and stir in sugar, almond extract, and chopped chocolate until well blended.
In bowls, cups, or glasses of your choice, alternate layers of the ricotta mixture, cherries, and almonds. My mom had wine glasses with straight sides, which worked well and looked way prettier than our clunky recycled glass tumblers. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? And when the insides are basically almond-spiked cannoli filling with cherries and taste like a lighter version of cherry cheesecake, how can you go wrong? Oh, and I’m sorry, there are no precise measures for this part of assembly. Embrace this opportunity to create your very own, personal ideal ratio of cherries to ricotta to almonds.